karatsu P1-P10 [en]

Kara no tsu

The northernmost point of Kyushu. As the name suggests, Karatsu is a port (Tsu) town heading towards China (Kara). Karatsu is close to the Korean Peninsula and has developed by being one of the first to accept people, goods, and culture from mainland China.

It has a long history, and many ruins remain, including Japan’s oldest rice paddies from the late Jomon period (about 4,000 – 3,500 years ago). In the Chinese history book “Gishiwajinden”, it was written as Matsurokoku, and it is also the origin of the word Matsuura, which refers to this region. It also appears in the “Manyoshu” and “The Tale of Genji” and has been the subject of numerous poems.

Karatsu’s pottery culture is said to have begun in the Muromachi period (1336 – 1573) due to interaction with the continent. It is said that during the Sengoku period(about 1467 – about1615), Toyotomi Hideyoshi sent troops to Korea, which led to a major evolution and the creation of Karatsu Ware.

It prospered as a coal shipping port from the late Edo period to the Showa period(about 1818 – about 1969), and while it retains the atmosphere of a castle town, it has a harmonious mix of modern the Meiji and Taisho (1868 – 1926) architecture and the retro Showa (1926 – 1989) shopping street.

Karatsu is not only s seaside town with rich food and scenic beauty, but also a culturally rich town blessed with castles, Karatsu Kunchi (festival), Niji no Matsubara (pine forest), Karatsu Ware, and other resources that have been preserved over many eras.

Freediver Jacques Mayol, known for his role in the movie “Grand Blue” was also fascinated by Karatsu and visited Karatsu many times.

Karatsu is connected to the rest of the world and has flourished in a variety of cultures, with layers of strata overlapping each era, and new discoveries and encounters await each time you visit.

Old Karatsu Ware

It was during the Momoyama period (1568 – 1600) that technological innovations occurred in the simple pottery that was baked near Mt. KishidaKe (the south of Karatsu). When Japan invaded Korea, the Korean potters they brought back with them passed on the cotinent’s latest technology. Karatsu Ware, which has become rich in style and variety, is loved by many tea masters and cultural people, and the word “Ichiido, Niraku, Sankaratsu” in the ranking of matcha bowls (Ido Ware is the best, Raku Ware is the second best and Karatsu Ware is the third best).

Karatsu Ware declined for a while, but due to the revival of old Karatsu techniques by Muan Nakazato, there are now 70 potteries working together to support the tradition and innovation of Karatsu Ware.

80% on the makers , 20% on the users

As you use it, cracks in the glaze start to emerge like patterns (penetration). It also proves that the completion of the work is entrusted to the creator and the user.

There is a saying in Karatsu Ware that says, “80% on the makers, 20% on the users”. The philosophy of Karatsu Ware is that the maker leaves a 20% blank space, and that the piece is truly completed when it is used. As you grow it over time, the soil color changes beautifully. Because it is purposefully not made into a finished product, the user will create your own complete Karatsu Ware, which becomes a one-of-a-kind vessel and reflects your individuality.

Beauty of Use

Simple lines in calm colors, Karatsu Ware may seem like an unassuming pottery at first glance. However, its true value is complete only after, the food is served, and the flowers are arranged. Overflowing with the warmth of the earth, its simple and strong texture blends seamlessly into your daily life, naturally complementing your food, and the food itself complements the tableware.

A vessel that becomes complete with use. It’s very modern. Karatsu Ware, which has continued to evolve with the user in mind, is both traditional and cutting-edge.

Life and Vessels

Text ・ Hisako Namekata

When you look at something at first glance, it may appear to shine brightly, as if it has life, even though it is just an object. Perhaps love at first sight is a moment like this. On the other hands, there are times when I suddenly fall in love with the things around me that seem to be in a rut, and I think that today they look even more beautiful than usual. Then, even though it was always a normal thing, by having warm feelings similar to love, I feel like they are also showing me that it is something special. Happy mutual love. It may be just my imagination, but in any case, having at least one thing around you in your daily life that you feel is special will increase the amount of time, you feel satisfied.

I think it’s also a blessing to be able to find a beautiful way to remove something “HAZUSHI” in your life, or find a good gap “SUKIMA” in your life. I have always felt that people with good taste are those who can control the width of their choices. You can only do this because you know the correct answer, and once you have decided and armed yourself with it, there is no more space left. The most beautiful thing may not be something extravagant, made by a famous artist, or made with advanced technology, but what you need. I feel that things that can be used freely, and freely are more useful in daily life. Even if you can’t put it into words, it’s okay if you feel. Whether it’s with person or with others, writing down a comfortable relationship with the person you’re dealing with will beautifully cultivate your days and your heart.

The origins of life are all found in nature, and nature is present in everything that humans create, even if the expressions and techniques are different. Vessels are indispensable for the most important act of human life, which is eating. We make vessels using soil and stones dug from the earth, and place the blessings of life we receive from nature on them. Vessels created with hands and hearts, connect humans and nature. Furthermore, vessels can bloom new flowers through cultural exchange. Vessels create relationships between people and allow people and nature to circulate. When you think about this, the role of pottery in your daily life becomes even more important.

In particular unlike Karatsu Ware, which is still mass-produced even today, the artist himself goes into the mountains to dig the soil and make the clay. The glaze is also often made from natural materials such as wood and straw, making it similar to plant dyeing. One of the characteristics of this work is that many artists carry out the entire process themselves, from making the clay to delivering it to the customer. Perhaps because everything is born from the earth and is made with the full blessings of nature, it seems like you can see the scenery of nature in the vessels themselves. One of the charms of these works is that they combine dignity of being made from rough clay, but I feel that the characteristics of each artist is often clearly expressed in the form of “HAZUSHI”. The more you know about it, the deeper it gets, and the gaps “SUKIMA” are like a swamp that you can’t easily escape from, so I hope you’ll get involved with it wholeheartedly.

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